Meditation Through Boxing

Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage. The human spirit is to grow strong by conflict.

– William Ellery Channing

Imagine you’re standing before a huge mountain, its roots running deep in the ground. You can make out the misty clouds shrouding the peak tops. It’s the end of Golden hour so it’s turning into that smokey, blue dusk. Can you be that mountain, a noble body of tranquility that’s immovable?

In boxing, it’s been hard to acquire the “warrior spirit,” to mentally prepare yourself before sparring belligerent opponents. On top of that, you’ll have to learn how to be a good sparring partner such as knowing when to really fight toe-to-toe their aggression vs. recognizing a new boxer.

Now, you must allow your SELF BEING to be a complete, unbroken circle. Ideas will pour through your EGO (fear of loss) and MIND (is this the moment I step here, pivot, and do a three punch combo?), but your BEING will simply let it pass. It grasps at nothing.

Then you realize that your circle needs no center. There isn’t even a circle anymore, only BEING. Thoughts and emotions may arise but dissolve into the background as bodies collide and you exchange punches. You will yield yourself to the opponent and become them. You are totally present, allowing your training to take over. You should investigate this thoroughly.

In Eastern philosophy, this state of reality awareness is called the “mind of no thought.” Western equivalents would be “in the zone,” or “being present.” When faced with total annihilation, your mind goes nowhere else but being in the exact moment to survive. You’re only watching the flow and your body executing the technical skills all your training has been for. Bruce Lee’s Artist of Life wrote in describing the essence of “no thought”:

During sparring a gunfu man learns to forget about himself and follows the movement of his opponent, leaving his mind free to make its own countermovement without any interfering deliberation. He frees himself from all mental suggestions of resistance and adopts a supple attitude. His actions are all performed without self-exertion; he lets his mind remain spontaneous and ungrasped. As soon as he stops to think, his flow of movement will be disturbed, and he will immediately be struck by his opponent.

Legendary Miyamoto Musashi, the sword-saint of Japan who went undefeated in 61 duels, had this to share in The Book of Five Rings:

Do not let your mind stand still even when you are in repose, but do not let is speed up even when you are involved in quick actions. The mind should not be distracted by the body, nor the body distracted by the mind…To think “I’ll parry” or “I’ll slap” or “I’ll hit, hold, or touch” will be insufficient for cutting him down. It is essential to think that anything at all is an opportunity to cut him down.

Now, let’s dial back and remember we don’t want to kill anyone over just a “hobby,” right? But boxing has given me a lot of intangible assets outside of the ring. As Teddy Atlas said, “Each one of us is fighting — to see what you are capable of, how dependable you are, and to become what you need to become.”